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Thursday, 5 March 2015
Page: 1339


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:07): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Human Services (Senator Payne) to a question without notice asked by Senator Moore today relating to International Women's Day.

Across the country and particularly in my own state of Queensland, a whole calendar of events is planned to take place over the next few days to celebrate International Women's Day. These events will acknowledge the history of women and look at what has happened to them to ensure that we celebrate the strength of women in our community.

In terms of my question and the extremely short answers provided by Minister Payne, I did hear comments made by Senator Macdonald, asking me directly as to how many times I have been at the Tattersall's Club. I can think of three times. One occasion was to attend a family function that was called by another person, whom I knew well. Another occasion was to attend a Royal Historical Society AGM and celebration dinner. I did say that I was concerned about attending the Tattersall's Club but I could not not attend because it was a very important occasion where a friend of mine was receiving an award. Another occasion was when I attended a Senate inquiry, where the committee had chosen to have its meeting at the Tattersall's Club. It will not happen again, because I raised my concerns at the time and they acknowledged that it was not the appropriate place to have such an inquiry.

I have no particular problem with the beautiful facilities at the Brisbane Tattersall's Club. However, I do have a problem in that, when we check out the membership of that club, we find that it is a proud businessman's club, which has been able to offer membership only to men for the whole 150 years of its existence. Indeed, not only is it just a men's club but, in the last few years, they conducted a public vote of their members—who, as we know, do not identify as women—to see whether women would be allowed to have membership to that club. By a significant number, the members of the Tattersall's Club decided that that would not occur and that they would not be offering membership of that club to women. It is on that basis, which is the only basis on which I have raised my concerns, that I ask: is this the appropriate place to hold an event celebrating International Women's Day?

Similar questions were asked yesterday in the other place. The Prime Minister, who is the Minister for Women, said it was a fabulous result and that it in fact represented a breaking down of the 'ceiling'. I trust that LNP women will not be breaking down any ceilings at the Tattersall's Club, because it would be very expensive to be doing any breaking of ceilings in that club. I was particularly interested that it was one defence. Another defence by the Queensland LNP was that the club was available and they had had to organise the occasion at short notice. I feel certain that a few other venues would have been available. And we actually know the day of International Women's Day!

But the defence that is my personal favourite is one that has been highly publicised, and it was made by LNP women's vice-president and Sunshine Coast businesswoman, Ms Simpson. She has come out and openly said that she feels the reason that it is important to have such an event at the Tattersall's Club is that it is similar to the actions of Rosa Parks, who made a statement when she went on a bus in Alabama and brought forward issues of equity. I celebrate the fact that the women of the LNP are going to be taking such peaceful action to raise issues of equity in our community. The way it has been presented by the LNP vice-president is that, seemingly, the lunch or the breakfast or the function to celebrate International Women's Day is some sort of peaceful occupation of the Tattersall's Club. We know the issues around that wonderful example of community action taken by that very strong woman from Alabama, Rosa Parks. Part of her action was not to leave the bus. She was on the bus and she was going to stay on the bus until she could take her rightful place at the front of the bus.

I want to celebrate the actions of the LNP for holding their event at the proudly male-membership-only Tattersall's Club in Brisbane. They will be having a peaceful occupation of that venue to celebrate International Women's Day. I also want to offer my support, because should those women not be able to leave the club because of their occupation, I am prepared to stand outside and say: 'Good on you, LNP, because you are actually breaking that glass ceiling.' You are making a statement and perhaps your activity will be successful. (Time expired)